ShareThis Page

McKeesport looks solid against strong camp competition

| Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, 8:33 p.m.
McKeesport running back Khaleke Hudson squeezes through a host of Penn-Trafford defenders en route to a touchdown during a WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff game Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, at Norwin.
Eric Schmadel | For the Tribune-Review
McKeesport running back Khaleke Hudson squeezes through a host of Penn-Trafford defenders en route to a touchdown during a WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff game Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, at Norwin.

McKeesport encountered its first real hitting of the preseason Saturday, taking on Central Catholic on the first day of high school scrimmages in the area, and the Tigers didn't do too badly at all.

That's what McKeesport coach George Smith thought, anyway.

Don't misunderstand. Smith appeared to be as tough-minded as ever with his kids. At times, he was noticeably animated, and at others, he was quietly observant as he stood with them between plays on the new turf at Weigle-Schaeffer Memorial Stadium.

“You learn how to play at a different intensity level this time of year. This is a good experience,” Smith said. “We have a lot of sophomores, and this is the first time many of them have ever seen anything like this up close. That wasn't just a scrimmage against any ordinary team.”


Central Catholic is coming off a season to remember, taking a shot at the PIAA Class AAAA crown but losing to Philadelphia St. Joseph's Prep for the Vikings' only defeat of the season.

The Vikings won the WPIAL championship and settled for a 15-1 record after being denied their fourth state title and third since 2004.

McKeesport took a similar path but exited the postseason much earlier, losing to Penn-Trafford in the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals.

The Tigers play their final scrimmage Saturday against Woodland Hills.

The teams had played during the regular season the past two years. Woodland Hills features running back Miles Sanders — a Penn State recruit — and Toledo-bound wide receiver Art Thompkins.

“We're seeing some top-notch talent,” Smith said.

It has been McKeesport's way under the two-term coach, who enters his second season since returning and 30th overall.

As McKeesport's players began gathering themselves to head home, senior Ty-Wann Smith limped past Smith.

“Make sure you put ice on your ankle,” the coach told the players (both are named Smith). “If you have guts, soak it in a bucket of ice water.”

Smith, the player, studied Smith, the coach, and figured out that Smith, the coach, indeed was offering some encouragement. It was only then that Smith, the player, grinned and nodded in agreement, but it wasn't immediately known if Smith, the player, used ice or water as a remedy.

Back on the field, Smith, the coach, remained positive.

“I saw some things. It's just got to be consistent,” he said.

Smith's concerns on the offensive line were a bit tempered by what he witnessed Saturday. There was a rash of fumbles by the Tigers, the most notable after junior Khaleke Hudson ripped off a 30-yard run with the help of some flashy moves but lost the ball near the end of the play.”

“Khaleke is going to be fine, but we'll work on protecting the ball. We'll work on a lot of things,” Smith said. “I liked the double-teams at times, and I saw some good inside blocking.”

On defense, Smith was particularly impressed with the play of his cornerbacks. He singled out junior Kyreek Sayles.

“No. 23,” Smith said. “Our interior guys did a good job of pushing the plays to the outside, and that's how it's designed for our corners to come up and shut off the play. They did that OK.”

Central Catholic's roster included four players whose fathers were on NFL teams. junior Braxton Swann is the son of Steelers Hall of Famer Lynn Swan, senior Grant Foster is the son of former Steelers running back Barry Foster; junior Gunnar Frerotte and sophomore Gabe Frerotte are the sons of former Washington Redskins quarterback and Ford City product Gus Frerotte; and sophomore Jamain Stephens, the son of former Steelers first-round pick Jamain Stephens Sr.

“We expect to be better each week,” Smith said. “I hope we can improve. We've just got to get them there. Woodland Hills is a similar team to Central. They have good running backs. We've got to get the line caught up.”

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.